Birthdays, Trains, and Wine

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

My mom had a big birthday in April and we wanted to get her something special.  My family has always been more about giving experiences or events rather than *things*. If you took a tour of my mom’s house, you’d know she already has enough things.  Not hoarder status, but she’s definitely not lacking in the “amazing amounts of possessions” department.  She’s a very crafty person and crafts take up space.  Lots of space.

But I digress.  Mom’s birthday.  What do you give a beautiful, mature woman to commemorate a significant milestone? 

Well, if you’re my family, a train ride, of course!

As I’ve said before, we live in an amazing area.  Trains have been an historical part of most communities, but our trains have been turned into 5-star restaurants slowly chugging their way through gorgeous wineries:

wine train vineyard


“The Napa Valley Wine Train provides a relaxing three-hour, thirty-six mile round-trip journey from the historic town of Napa, through one of the world’s most well-known wine valleys to the quaint village of St. Helena, and back.

Guests aboard the Wine Train enjoy a freshly prepared lunch or dinner inside a fully restored 1915-1917 Pullman Dining Car or 1952 Vista Dome car as they pass the vineyards and wineries of Napa Valley.”  

wine train wine

wine train set up








 Sounds pretty amazing, huh? 

My mom’s train ride for two included a gourmet meal.  We told her she could take anyone she wanted as her guest – and she chose me!  (I might have strongly hinted that I would be the perfect companion).  Thanks Mom!  And Happy Birthday!

Me and the Madre

wine train table set

Just your typical view from one of the tables.

I’m not in the habit of taking pictures of my food, so I didn’t remember to capture all the offerings, but if you’d have seen them all, you’d be impressed.  And hungry.   What I did get was some pictures of the train, our beautiful view, and me and my mom in one of the luxurious dome car seats.  

I kinda ate most of the salad before I realized a picture was in order.

I kinda ate most of the salad before I remembered to take a picture.  (And if you we’re hoping for entree pics — uh, let’s just say I was too busy eating).


Mom's dessert - creme brulee.  Yum.

Mom’s dessert – creme brulee. Yum. (And the coffee was good too!)


My dessert -- tiramisu.  I'm not usually a fan, but this is the best Tiramisu I've ever had.  Didn't hurt that it had a chocolate outer layer.

My dessert — Tiramisu. I’m not usually a fan, but this is the best Tiramisu I’ve ever had. Didn’t hurt that it had a chocolate outer layer.

After much wine (mostly me) and food (both of us), we went home very full and happy.  

I got zero compensation for this post.  Just wanted to share what we did for my mom’s birthday among the abundant offerings here in beautiful California. 

Has anyone else had a lunch or dinner on the wine train?


California Girl of the Month

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Since we started this project, we have been in awe of the inspirational women that have joined our clan.  If you have a sense of humor and/or appreciate a story well told, you will fall in love with this month’s California Girl of the Month, Sharon DeVellis.  Sharon is the Creative Director at Yummy Mummy Club as well as a freelance writer.  She also took up speed skating at the age of 40.  No, seriously.  Isn’t that all kinds of awesome?  

I asked Sharon to send me a picture of her in her tights and cape, because she’s my definition of Superwoman. As accommodating as ever, the only thing missing from her picture is the cape.

Sharon D

Sharon modeling her lycra. The only thing missing is her cape!

We appreciate Sharon helping to spread the California vibe all the way from her hometown of Ontario, Canada. 

Age: Proudly 44

Your Life Mantra:  Just try.

 At the age of 40 I decided to take up short track speed skating even though I didn’t really know how to skate. This then morphed into me racing my first triathlon in 2013 even though I had to learn to swim first. While I’m still the slowest speed skater on the ice and my swimming is mediocre at best, putting myself outside my comfort zone taught me three important lessons:

1) There is immense accomplishment in simply getting out there and trying. You don’t always need to be great at something, just get out there and do it.
2) You’ll never become great at anything if you don’t take that first step.
3) I need to find a sport that doesn’t involve lycra.


Favorite Charity or Cause?  My mother died of a heart attack at a relatively young age so I support the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Locally I volunteer for a family centre in my neighbourhood and help coach at my son’s speed skating club.

Which word that describes the California lifestyle resonates the most with you and why?  Open-minded: When I was younger, I used to see the world in black and white but now I realize it’s a million shades of grey.  I focus on trying to listen and learn, instead of simply speaking about my own opinions. There’s sometimes that moment in a conversation one might start to feel defensive or that the other person is ‘wrong’ – that’s the exact moment I know I should be listening instead of talking.

What is your favorite pair of California Footwear Co?   That’s easy:   Hermosa.  Although I also have my eyes on the Clarion sandals in black because I think they would look good with a cute summer dress or casual capris.

When/where do you wear your California Footwear Co sandals/shoes/boots?  I basically live in my Hermosa sandals. I wear them when I run errands, around the house, when I’m outside with my kids….they are on my feet All.The.Time. I’m actually wearing them right now as I type this.

Choose one word that describes your fashion style.   Easy-going.  I have a ‘go with the flow’ attitude and that shows in my wardrobe. I definitely lean more towards comfort and since I’m in triathlon training mode right now, you’ll most often find me in some sort of work out gear.

Last thing that made you laugh?  My son when we were delivering newspapers together. Both my kids make me laugh on a daily basis–sometimes even on purpose.

Have you visited California?  If so, where and what was your favorite part about it?  I visited California on a press trip with my son four years ago. We spent two days in San Francisco and two days at Disneyland. Both my son and I loved Musee de Mecanique and visiting Alcatraz. Two days was definitely not enough time to see everything we wanted to see and I would go back in a nano-second. California is beautiful.

When someone says the word “California” what comes to mind? Sunshine!

A California Girl can be a woman from anywhere in the world who loves comfortable shoes (especially California Footwear Co!) and considers herself healthy, casual, active, open-minded, cutting-edge, fashionable, pro-active, revolutionary, and/or friendly.

Being a California Girl isn’t about where you live, it’s about who you are and how you think.  California is a state of mind.  Please email us at if you’d like to be considered as the next California Girl!